Friday, October 31, 2008

Two 4 Two

Haven't been in a blogging mood lately.
Two 4 Two rolls along. Here is last week's slideshow. Sam did an excellent job, don't you think?

Autumn has been beautiful.
When I drive through tunnels of brightly colored leaves
back lit by the sun's weakening hold on humidity and heat
I wish I could keep the visual
I cannot
Behind the beauty I see
wintry skeletons stripped bare and turned brown
and waiting ... waiting... waiting so long ... for Spring to redress

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This week's Two 4 Two Video

Sam took the week off. So this one is from me. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Schades of Glory

Well, as a mid-week bonus for those of you who take the time to check on this blog, I offer you this video of our one, and only, Isaac Schade. He continues to travel with the ministry/worship group "Believe."

We continue to pray that he will come back to school. As the video suggests, it may be too late. Please, people, get on your knees. Help our poor Isaac. I've always considered N'Synch a slippery slope. I'm afraid that next week he'll be wearing a raspberry beret' and singing about purple rain.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Tomorrow is Commitment Sunday and I will be preaching from Philippians. It will be a busy day for a couple of reasons. Morning services, the funeral for Earl Stuckenbruck in the afternoon, followed by the church picnic.

I have two of tomorrow's pastoral prayers and will post them both (as per requests). I hope to see you tomorrow:

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
19 October 2008

9:30 Service: Bill Greer

Our most gracious and loving God,

We come again into your presence, bringing with us our weaknesses and our imperfections. Yet you welcome us with open arms. For your abundant grace and endless love we are grateful and so we worship you today with joy and thanksgiving.

We continue to thank you for the blessings of life – so many of which we too often take for granted. For the breathtaking colors of this season, for the rich blessings of family and friends, and for the belonging and purpose that we find at Grandview, we thank you. We are grateful, too, that we have the amazing privilege and awesome responsibility of serving you. We pray that our efforts, small though they may be relative to the needs of the world, in some way serve to honor you.

Father, we thank you for the healing of mind, body, and spirit that you unceasingly provide. We stand amazed at your power. We bring our prayers to you this day for those in need of healing and for those in need of your presence in their lives. Help us to be your hands and feet as we seek ways to serve those around us who are in need of you and your grace. May our service and our love extend to those who are different from us, including our enemies.

In the silence, we lift up the names of those who are in special need of your grace:


Lord, you have blessed us with an abundance that we often fail to appreciate or comprehend. Help us to recognize the responsibility that each of us have to be good stewards of those things which you have given us. May we seek ways to use our talents and our time to honor you in all things and in all facets of our lives.

May we also seek ways to use our treasure for purposes that bring glory to you. By giving financially to Grandview, we are able, by your grace, to support a remarkable ministerial staff and gather together inside a comfortable building. But we’re also supporting other ministries beyond our walls, some who are scattered throughout this city and some who are scattered across the globe. We pray for the many ministries we support. And we pray for the work of other congregations in Johnson City, throughout the United States, and around the world, that collectively we might carry out the great commission of spreading the gospel to all people far better than any of us could do alone.

And so, we ask for your guidance and your blessing as we commit our resources to your work. May our collective financial support be sufficient to enable our ministry to grow without bounds.

Together, we join our voices together asking that your will be done, as Jesus asked of you when he taught us to pray, saying:

Our Father, who art in heaven…

11am Service: Bob Hall (the younger)

God of peace, you shower your blessings down on us. You are all mighty, all powerful, all knowing, all seeing. You know our minds, You know our hearts, yet You love us anyway.
You are our God and we praise Your name.
Lord, we come before you, all prisoners of one sort or another. Alone we cannot break free of our bonds, of our shackles, of our desires, of our sin. In good times and bad, seasons of plenty and shades of want, our only proper place for trust lies in You. Through the presence of Your Spirit, through the majesty of the Christ, You make us strong. And the strength You give us, in Jesus name, allows us to do all things.
Father, true contentment is not a human achievement. It is a divine gift. Bless us with us with this most cherished of gifts…contentment without complacency; contentment knowing we are doing Your will brought about in serving You by serving Your kingdom, serving others, giving sacrificially of ourselves. Help us be content with what we have and what we don’t have. Help us live true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing and commendable lives. Allow Your contentment to free us from earthly shackles of greed and hubris, of selfish desire. Liberate us to give with abandon, a level of contentment only found from being a member of your family. Engender in us a sense of joy, that we need to give so much that we look for every opportunity to do so, knowing it is pleasing to you and nourishes the soul, mind, body.
Bless our enemies, Father. Give us the grace to give them our blessings, too.
We raise up to Your our brother in Jesus Christ, Earl Stuckenbruck. A more utterly decent, humble loving servant, full of Christ-like grace never walked this earth. Gather him up in your arms and give him his rest.
And now in the silence, Father, hear our prayers…of want, of plenty, of emptiness, of joy:

Bless your Church, Holy God. Bless it with Christian servants around the world...from mountains of China to the deserts of Iraq to the shores of Africa to the rain forests of South America to the streets of Europe and here at home. Bless the churches in East Tennessee. And Bless Grandview Christian Church. We are Your children and You are our God.
And now we pray together as Jesus taught us to pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Two 4 Two

I have neglected to post last week's slide show! Here it is. Thanks, Sam, for putting it together.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Art of Worshiping God

My highest goal in worship planning is that our worship at Grandview proclaim God's greatness ... while reflecting our gifts from God. This goal can be difficult road to travel, causing disappointment on many sides. Some folks prefer worship to reflect the gifts and tastes of previous generations, without taking our own gifts into account. Other folks prefer the "new" church, which winds up being a somewhat generic, church-in-a-box, nothing-but-beat, just-do-what-the-cool-church-does model that ignores as much of the past as possible.

Lost in the discussion, from my standpoint anyway, is that worship is an offering of ourselves. Ourselves. Not just yourself. Not just myself. Not just the selves of those who have come before, though we walk on their shoulders (not stand, not sit).

My goal is to avoid cookie-cutter worship, be it ancient or post-modern. Those categories aren't theologically wrong, especially if we're doing our best. I want to avoid cookie-cutter worship because it is like ordering gift cake from a catalog. It may be a very good cake, but if you have the talent to bake one for your friends or family then homemade is a greater gift.

All of that is backdrop for why I'm excited about Tom Root's pending contribution to Grandview's worship. Benefactors (thanks, benefactors!) at Grandview have given money to begin a series of paintings to be placed in the Grandview Room during worship services there. The series hasn't been named yet, but will focus on the church being the church. I'm hoping for a minimum of three paintings, but I'd prefer five (it will all depend on money and gifts, of course).

When we began discussing the paintings I told Tom that I wanted them to reflect Appalachia, Grandview, and his gifts as an artist. I didn't want him simply to reproduce another artist's work. I wanted it to be uniquely "us."

I love where he has begun taking the project. He decided he wanted to draw from the well of the 19th century French artist, Puvis de Chavannes. 19th Century France and Appalachia. That's art moving forward without forgetting the past. That's fusion, baby!

The first painting (the only one we have the money for at this time) is an experience of prayer. Below is an early sketch of the direction Tom is heading. When I saw this I immediately thought of Jesus in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. For me, any way, the woman praying suggests the church taking its place alongside Jesus in that role (if you click on the picture it should get bigger).
The following sketch (and I'm not sure sketch is the right word) is Tom's preliminary work on baptism; a work that recalls crossing the Jordan as well as the Red Sea. The figures on our right are burdened travelers, preparing to cross the river. Other figures are in the light and the water both.
The sketch on worship reflects the ancient practice of singing and making music before the Lord, but with instruments that suggest Appalachia.
I like this art because it is good and because it comes from "us." That's why I like our communion table, designed for this space by our own Garry Smith, crafted by our own Roger Allman. It captures the lines of the sanctuary and it suggests (for me, any way) the manger.
Garry and Roger are responsible for the pulpit and lecturn as well.
Not everybody notices or appreciates such things, least of all visitors. We walk a fine line there. Our worship isn't for the visitors, it's for God. Hopefully we can get people to worship with us long enough to focus on God, not our worship style. Often they don't.

Betty Taber designed and crafted the stained glass windows in the sanctuary.
It's hard for me to imagine our worship space without these touches of "love offerings".
Betty didn't just do windows all by herself. She also led (and is leading) the youth in crafting stained glass windows for the youth area. She is sharing her gifts with God and with others. Below is one of the stained glass windows the youth made under her direction.
Use your gifts for God today. If you can create beautiful things, do that. It's one of the highest functions of being human ... and of worshiping God.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yesterday's Offering

Yesterday we continued our stewardship emphasis month. This isn't the logo. This is the blue version--we're in the red.

We announced a three Sunday luncheon for college students (Nov 2, 9, 16). I'm putting the picture in the blog because I worked hard on it and want it to be seen as often as possible.

I don't have much time for posting tonight so I'll get right to the pastoral prayer. The three prayer leaders this week were Theresa Garbe, Bob Hall, and Bill Greer. The blogged version this week is Bill Greer's at the 9:30 service. Thanks, Theresa, Bob, and Bill.

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
12 October 2008

Our most gracious heavenly father:

Having been created in your image, but possessing human imperfection, we present ourselves to you in worship. We are grateful for the infinite grace that you show us each day. We thank you for your limitless patience as we try, but so often fail, to be the children you wish us to be.

For the remarkable beauty that surrounds us, for the change of seasons, and for the constancy of your love, we thank you. May we celebrate these blessings, knowing that all good and perfect things come from you. But father, we too often place our faith and our trust in institutions of human creation, only to see them falter. Help us to see past our worldly concerns about finances, elections, wars, and prejudices, and grant us the wisdom to trust and delight in you and your grace. Among your billions of children, we in this room are rich beyond measure. Embolden us to seek ways to use these gifts for your glory and for the extension of your kingdom. May we surrender control to you – the creator and sustainer of all things.

We ask for your special blessing to be upon those in need of healing, upon those in need of rest, and upon those whose lives are empty or turned away from you. We pray for our leaders, for our enemies, and we pray for peace in the world and in our lives. Thank you for prayers answered, for being present in our lives, and for providing the world with an image of you and your amazing love through the life of your son, Jesus Christ.

In the silence, we offer up our prayers for ourselves and for others in need:


We thank you, Lord, for the blessings you have granted this congregation as we seek to serve your kingdom in our community and in our world. We are grateful that you have made it possible for us to serve others through our support for Agape Women’s Services, Appalachian Christian Camp, Christian Student Fellowship at ETSU, Emmanuel School of Religion, European Evangelistic Society, Higher Ministries, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Milligan College, Friends at John Sevier, and the Salvation Army.

We ask for your direction as we consider how we might financially support your work through Grandview. May we be willing to let go of that which you have yourself given us, so that your ministry here might continue to grow and so that we might continue to share with others less fortunate than we.

We continue our prayer, joining our voices together, as Jesus taught us to pray, saying…

Our father, who art in heaven…

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Two 4 Two for October 8

Welcome to a few pics from last night's Two 4 Two. 6'5" Logan helps me out by posing for a picture with Ryan.

I'm amazed at how grown up William is looking these days (he even cleaned his plate).
Deke displays his mad waiter skills.Beautiful young ladies eating sharing a meal together (Abby, Brook, and Anna).

Daniel getting ready to go "Animal".

And, of course, the slide show. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This and That

I promised something in the last post that I have failed to deliver.

Here is my new "Russelized" 1975 Honda 400 SuperSport (flanked by my nephews, Ethan and Marcus). When my clutch cable snapped a few months ago, I took the bike to Ross Russell's house. Ross knows a good Honda mechanic.

What I got back was a slick reincarnation of that bike. But it was not easy. Ross' mechanic told him: "Don't bring me anymore 400s." Apparently it was quite an ordeal. I can't thank Ross and Leni enough (but I'll try!).
Motorcycles just evoke these kinds of emotions in boys. What can I say? The look on their faces is how a man's "inner child" feels on a bike!

Here is most of the family (Eric, Missy, Ethan, Marcus, Lily, and Katherine) at the Apple Festival. It was a beautiful day. That means there were people everywhere. I think that's the most crowded the town has been since the elephant hanging.Now for the real excitement...the collapsing stands at Tusculum College, home of the Greeneville Band Battle (or some name such as that). We were sitting on these things, kids and all, when they fell.

I was disappointed in my "spidey-sense" because I felt them sway just a little bit and I dismissed it. I thought, "What would I do if these things collapsed?" Realizing that I wasn't very high in the air, I decided I would just stand up on the seat in front of me and ride it down.

About five minutes later they swayed again, but this time it was clear that they were giving way. I did just what I planned to do, but I hadn't thought about people getting their feet caught between the foot boards and the seats as they collapsed. It pulled Anna's shoe off, but she escaped with only a bruised ankle. My nephew, Marcus, had the worst sprain because his little leg was pinned between the metal pieces while people were trying to get off the thing.
The campus security people were there quickly, but not very helpful. They seemed focused on protecting the collapsed stands from us. When my sister-in-law asked for help in finding her 8-year-old son in the confusion, the campus cop refused--preferring to stand around and watch.

The EMS guys seemed more concerned with Tusculum's liability (and their own, for some unknown reason) than with the twisted ankles, bruises, and fears.

The whole thing was a reminder to me that doing our jobs, and doing them well, is really important. I suspect that whoever put those stands together didn't do it quite right. I suspect the campus cops had forgotten their true purpose (unless they've been instructed by the school to protect and serve the school, not the people who visit). The EMS guys were just afraid to their jobs, as far as I could tell.

My brother and his family came all the way from Indianapolis to watch Meghan in the band competition, they paid $30 to get in. The collapse happened about ten minutes before Science Hill's band took the field, so you can guess how much they got to enjoy that.

Your work is important. Do it well today! Speaking of which ... I had better get to work on my sermon. Peace!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Yesterday's Offering

We continued with our "All of Life" Stewardship commitment emphasis yesterday. The sermon was a little strange, but we made it through just fine (Mondays aren't the best days to review Sundays).

In a separate entry I will post some Saturday pics that include having family in town, the return of my Honda motorcycle (Thanks, Ross!!!), attempts at attending the Apple Festival, and the uncertain thrill of bleachers collapsing beneath me and my family at the band competition at Tusculum College.

For now, I want to introduce a new feature of this blog: the pastoral prayer. I know, I know, I know. The weekly prayer has been a part of this blog for a year and a half now.

I have reluctantly given the pastoral prayer back to the elders of the church (where it belongs, really). I say "reluctantly" not because I don't want to give it away, but because it has been a good discipline. The pastoral prayers at Grandview will now be written by three different people each week; one in each service. I will try to share one each week, rotating between the three services.

I have to say that when Bill Greer was leading the pastoral prayer in the 9:30 service it was a surprising joy to sit and pray without leading (excellent prayer, Bill ... but I don't have your written copy, so I'm going with Bob Hall's 11am prayer this week).

Without further adieu, from the mind and heart of Bob Hall (the younger):

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
5 October 2008

Father, God we adore your giving spirit. We adore your love and covet your blessings. You give us our sustenance. You give us life. You cleave us to you and we don’t want you to let go.

Still we want what we want. We want it all, everything we can get…for ourselves. Our level of selfishness, our love of self, of what’s ours…can at times be of staggering proportions. Take, take, take is often our mantra. Our hearts are hard…wedged full of all the stuff we can cram in them. When our hearts are closed we are no better than a brood of vipers looking to warm ourselves in the sun that is meant for more than just us.

Redeem us, Lord. Set our minds right. In your scriptures, you show us the folly of our egos, the folly of our greed. You show us how the unredeemable can be touched, touched by the love of the Father, the example of the Son and infected with the Holy Spirit. Give us the strength to be as holy as the tax collectors who were bowed down before the Christ, seeking salvation and asking what they could do.

We are takers at our worst (and most) and true givers at our best. But our best is so inconsistent. Help us to be our best every day. It’s what your world and YOU deserve from us. We are members of one another, members of your human race, even as diverse and strange as we may be to each other. We are your family.

We pray for our enemies, Lord, asking that you bless them. And may we be an extension of your blessings to them.

In the silence, Father, hear our prayers…of joy, of anguish, of desperation, of thanksgiving:

Bless our missionaries, those who overtly give of themselves to others, working to spread your love and your word to all peoples. Specifically, God, we ask your strength, health, wisdom, and passion on the the Coleys, the Freelands, the Headens, the Hillmans, the Nyadors, the Veals, and the McDades. Bless the organizations and individuals who support them in Your name.

And now we pray together as Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Two 4 Two Week 3

My camera was not charged last night, so all my photos are from my i-phone. If you're wanting to get familiar with the kids, I've labeled each picture with names.
This picture of Buddy is my absolute favorite of the night:Animal night ... Nathan finally got to buy his "penguin" shirt

The mountains through the sanctuary window were looking especially nice last night
Dylan and Carter


"Big Brother" checking on Cassady

Megan, Pippa, and Anna

Here's this week's slide show. Thanks, Sam. The song is much, much more to my liking this week. I hope it's to your liking as well.